There is something about traveling that makes you think about all the other times you’ve traveled, flipping through the trips like pages in a book. I’m grateful to have had so many adventures over the years – a spur of the moment trip to Puerto Rico, months spent back packing across Europe, rambling through Australia in a hippie camper, hitchhiking in St. John, just to name a few. Hopefully, there are many more adventures to come.
As for my current adventure, I’ve spent the last 2 weeks or so prowling the vast expanse known as the Ocala, a 385,000 acre wilderness in north-central Florida. As I’ve discovered like many before me, this area has an abundance of natural springs (much like the Ichetucknee) that bubble up 72-degree water all year long. Of these, Silver Glen Springs has been my favorite. Soft white sand covers the floor of the spring, giving the water the pale blue color that one associates with the shallow waters of the Keys – not a pool of water in the middle of a pine scrub.
Across from Silver Glen Springs is the Yearling Trail, a long walk through the scrub out to an island of pines that was once inhabited by a few dozen pioneering souls in the mid 1800s. (This was the setting for Marjorie Kinnon Rawling’s book, The Yearling, hence the name.) I spent several hours walking through this scrub, past the sites of old homesteads with nothing to mark that anyone had ever lived there, except a few tombstones in a forgotten cemetery.
It’s interesting to think about people living off the land. Honestly, I don’t know how they did it out here, as dry and sandy as it is. My, what a long way we’ve come from that way of life. Sometimes I wonder if we wouldn’t take better care of the environment if we depended on it in a more direct way.
I can’t exactly say that I’m living off the land – pretty far from it, I suppose. But, I do think that having spent the last month camping and being outside nearly all the time has deepened my connection with nature. Each day, I wake up to the sound of sandhill cranes trumpeting across the sky, filled with wonder about what the day will bring. And each night, I see the stars between the low branches of the live oak, shining bright and clear against the darkness. I go to bed feeling tired and fulfilled, looking forward to another day and another adventure.